Code Ninjas, a national franchise which teaches children how to write coding and programming for electronic applications — essentially a second language for the information age —is now open in Rapid City.
“Coding is a language,” said Chandelle Brink, co-owner of the new Rapid City Code Ninjas franchise with her husband, Travis. “Coding is what tells anything electronic what to do.”
Learning the language of coding in a fun atmosphere is the name of the game at Code Ninjas, co-founded in 2016 by programmer and entrepreneur David Graham, of Pearland, Texas.
According to codeninjas.com, the company now includes 441 centers in 44 states.
The franchise takes the martial arts approach of advancing children from the ages of 7-14 from one level of programming skill to another.
They learn from an instructor, called a Code Sensei, and work their up through different color belts (In this case, colored wristbands) as they learn logic, problem solving and math.
Once kids have achieved the black belt level of Code Ninja they should be able to design and write a marketable game or app program.
“The end goal is for them to have created and built a game that they can upload to an app store and make money selling their app,” Brink said.
Chandelle learned of Code Ninjas from a friend living in Omaha. The business was a natural extension for Travis, who has been employed in the Information Technology field for many years, Chandelle said.
He and Chandelle have five children who had been exposed to different aspects of coding and programming while growing up, she said.
But in spite of their experience with technology, quite often it seemed they were starting over at the beginning each time they tried something new.
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They felt their own teaching methods missed the step-by-step approach to learning and fun.
“The Code Ninjas program filled that to a tee,” Brink said.
The couple brings their collective experiences and strengths to the business. Travis is from Rapid City and is a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Chandelle grew up on a ranch in the Faith/Opal area.
“I have the human aspect of it. I’m a mom. I love kids. I love seeing them learn and light up when they figure something out. Technology isn’t my strong point, but my husband’s is and that’s how we got together,” Chadelle said.
Applicants for their Code Senseis (instructors) have come from Mines and also from Western Dakota Tech and the city high schools.
“People clamor to be hired because they can be involved in technology and get to work with kids,” she said.
Chandelle emphasizes that Code Ninjas is not necessarily a training ground destined only for those who will enter the IT field. The lessons learned could augment any eventual career choice, or just be strictly for fun.
“We are not creating coders. We’re hoping to create children coming out of our program as awesome critical thinkers and team workers,” she said. “They know how things work and they have that second language they can pull out of their back pocket any time they need it.
“Best thing is they don’t realize they’re learning that. They’re having such a good time,” she said.
The Rapid City Code Ninjas celebrated a ribbon-cutting on Nov. 7 and opened Nov. 9 at 5565 Bendt. Drive near the intersection of Catron and Sheridan Lake Road.
Call (605) 786-4810, or log on to codeninjas.com for more information.